Uterine Prolapse

Definition

Uterine prolapse occurs when the uterus slips out of place and into the vaginal canal. The severity of uterine prolapse is defined as:

  • First degree—the cervix protrudes into the lower part of the vagina
  • Second degree—the cervix protrudes past the vaginal opening
  • Third degree—the entire uterus protrudes past the vaginal opening
Uterine Prolapse
uterine prolapse
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The uterus is normally supported by pelvic connective tissue. It is held in position by special ligaments. Weakening of the tissue causes the uterus to descend into the vaginal canal.

Risk Factors

Increasing age and white race increase your chances of having uterine prolapse. Other factors include:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Pelvic pressure
  • A feeling of vaginal fullness or heaviness
  • A feeling of pulling in the pelvis
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Urinary urgency and frequency
  • Urination when laughing, sneezing, coughing, or exercising
  • Protrusion of pink tissue from the vagina that may be irritated or itchy

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. Uterine prolapse that has no symptoms may be diagnosed during routine examinations. Your doctor may refer you to a gynecologist, who will do a pelvic exam.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. First or second degree prolapse without symptoms may not require treatment. Treatment options include:

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises involve tensing the muscles around the vagina and anus, holding for several seconds, then releasing. The repetition of this exercise will help to tone pelvic muscles.

Medication

Your doctor may recommend estrogen therapy. This may help prevent further weakness of the pelvic floor.

Pessary Insertion

Your doctor may insert a pessary into the upper portion of the vagina. A pessary is a rubbery, doughnut-shaped device. It helps to prop up the uterus and bladder. Pessary placement is more often used in older women.

Your doctor may insert a pessary into the upper portion of the vagina. A pessary is a rubbery, doughnut-shaped device. It helps to prop up the uterus and bladder. Pessary placement is more often used in older women.

Surgery

Surgery may be needed for severe uterine prolapse. These procedures are usually not done until you have finished having children. Options include:

  • Hysterectomy —This is the removal of the uterus. This will permanently resolve uterine prolapse.
  • Vaginal repair—This is usually done with a hysterectomy. The repair can be done with sutures or with insertion of mesh and slings.
  • Colpocleisis—This involves closing the vagina. It is done only in women who are elderly and who are no longer sexually active.

If you are diagnosed with uterine prolapse, follow your doctor's instructions .

Prevention

To help prevent uterine prolapse:

  • Do Kegel exercises .
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • To avoid constipation, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
  • If you smoke, quit . Smoking may cause chronic coughing and weakening of connective tissues.
  • Limit heavy lifting.

Revisions

All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
Copyright © 2008 EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.

Every minute counts if you suspect someone is having a stroke. Immediate treatment saves lives and increases the chances for a successful recovery. Don’t wait. Call 911.